Case Study from Real World Experience: Support vs. Engineering

04/21/2019 by Jon Fincher

Real World Examples - Support vs. Engineering

One of the turning points of my career at Microsoft came when I began supporting Windows NT 4.0 Embedded (which I’ll call NTE). At the time, it was the new embedded product, joining Windows CE, and I was the sole support engineer for the product.

Because the engineering team for NTE was small and remote, they didn’t have people to spare to attend trade shows. They asked me to help, and I began a few years of traveling every few months to work a trade show booth, talk to customers, and represent the team.

During this time, I was also asked by my manager to learn Windows CE to help pick up cases coming to the support team. However, due to my engagement with the NTE team, I simply didn’t have bandwidth to do so. The rest of my Windows CE support teammates struggled under a heavy case load while I was busy helping the NTE engineering team.

In hindsight, it’s obvious that I was not a full-time member of either team. I didn’t pick up certain support cases to help my team, and I couldn’t contribute to the engineering effort other than as a support engineer. The situation was rectified in the only way it could have been, when I left the support team entirely and joined the engineering team.

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